One of Aimee Spencer’s closest friends, Chauncey Green, wanted to go out one weekend, but Spencer couldn’t, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, she wouldn’t. The financial advisor at Merrill Lynch will not spend money on the weekend every so often.
She takes the money she would have spent and applies it towards her debt or invests it. These amounts of money may be relatively small, but over the long-term they can lead to significant financial stability, Spencer said Thursday (March 28) during the Neil Griffin College of Business Women’s Business Leadership Conference held on the Arkansas State University campus.
“I came from a large family, a family filled with beautiful women,” Spencer told attendees. “My passion is women.”
Women face unique challenges in the workforce and in life in general, Spencer said. The average woman lives to be 86, while their male counterparts will only live to about 81. That means if a woman retires at age 65, she will have to have enough retirement savings to last more than two decades. The problem is compounded by the fact that women who are married will also spend several years of that time without a spouse, and will need on average $195,000 more than their male counterparts.
The trend lines in women’s employment and business ownership have dramatically risen in recent years, Spencer said. By 2021, about 58% of four-year college degrees will be conferred to woman, while 62% of master’s degrees will be given to females. About 54% of doctoral degrees will go to woman.
Each day about 1,000 businesses are started nationwide by women and there are more than 11 million women-owned businesses in the country. Within in families, women make 85% of the purchasing decisions and those buys equate to up to $15 trillion in buying power.
The key to financial success is to start saving and investing as soon as possible, she said. Before that process begins, an individual needs to sit down and form a plan, based on priorities. The first step is to create a list of top concerns.
For Spencer, financial security, the pursuit of fulfilling activities, and not being a burden to her daughter later in life are her guiding priorities. Others might include early retirement, wealth acquirement, and others.
The next step is to make a list of top priorities and goals. Once its complete, create a strategy to achieve those goals. Third, check with yourself from time to time to ensure that you are on track to meet your priorities, she said.
Life has a habit of changing, and it’s often women that have to deal with those changes more so than men. Women often leave the workforce for greater amounts of time to tend to children or to take care of a sick or elderly relative, she said. During this time, there is a significant loss of income and benefits. Even during times like this, women need to keep working on their professional skills so that the transition back into the workforce is easier.
“Time is not going to wait on you,” she said.